Giving gifts to others has always been for me so meaningful, special. And Christmas seems to symbolize this more than any other time of year.
But my first Christmas three months after our son’s death found me drained and wrung out. I didn’t feel like a “gifter”, only an empty-handed “griever”. Sorrow hurts, but it is also an energy thief, robbing one of motivation to do even simple tasks. All the festive things I usually did at this time of year, I now dreaded. Mailing cards to family and friends with new updates felt overwhelming. Why could I just not crawl into a vacuum of space until it was over?
But, thankfully, I didn’t. Someone who cared for me challenged me to rethink what Christmas really was. Even though I grieved, life had to go on. And wasn’t that the reason for this celebration?
When we think of the greatest Gift given to mankind, a costly Gift, we are motivated to be giving ourselves.
In retrospect, I can see how I was allowing myself to focus on me and my loss, and that self-absorption can isolate us from those around us.
What I began to learn in that first stabbing Christmas enabled me to not just endure it, but to find peace, comfort, and most of all joy.
Our son Aaron was a gift to us, but so were our other children, family and friends. Gifts are everywhere, even those that may be broken. But we must intentionally look for them, and even more when we are grieving.
We open our eyes to the wonders around us, especially at this time of year. We turn away from the gaudy glitter, and see the beauty of gracious giving in the lives of so many.
If we let the sorrow become a Scrooge in our hearts, we can become bitter and hard. But we can endure if we realize our loved one was not given to us as a possession, but a gift.
As I reflected on this, I began to move from a stagnant, suffocating sorrow, to one of a thankful, grateful heart. Thankful for the years we did have. Grateful for precious photos, fun happy memories and past Christmases.
Nothing will change the fact of loss or death. But just as we celebrate Christmas year after year, gift after gift, we remember. And in that timeless place of recall, we can find that Joy triumphs over death and we move forward again in anticipation of celebrating life.